(L-R:) DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Usec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and Carmen Hiosa founder of Pinatex Leather, made of pineapple fiber. (Photo courtesy of Malacañang)

March 7, 2017, during a Department of Agriculture event held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace, President Rodrigo Duterte (PRRD) in the midst of his speech talking about the killings and willing to go to prison for the right reasons,  surprised the audience with a candid and spontaneous remark about being distracted by DA’s USEC Berna Romulo Puyat’s legs, who was seated in the front row across the President.The remark “Berna, nadis-distract ako, you close your legs. National TV ‘no. Nakikinig pa ba ang papa mo?”  was said in jest which drew laughter from the guests and audience.

This of course drew mixed emotions from the netizens and on social media some saying it was a sexist and inappropriate remark while others merely considered it as it was meant to be, a joke.

Joke or no joke, in an exclusive telephone interview with Asian Dragon magazine, President Duterte said that he had personally apologized to USEC Berna Romulo Puyat.  He had no intention whatsoever to offend her and her family because indeed she was seated properly with her legs crossed.  He was distracted and got carried away.

After all, he was quoted saying in his 2015 Asian Dragon interview that “Election or no election, Berna remains to be my ideal first lady…She’s one person I’m proud of showing to the world”.

“You know I respect USEC Berna Romulo Puyat a lot and so I would never do anything to offend her”, says PRRD.

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